Court is not the place to fix relationship problems

Interviewed on the Radio 4 Broadcasting House Programme the head of the English and Welsh family courts Sir Andrew McFarlane stated that courts should be the last resort for resolving relationship disputes where there aren’t issues of domestic abuse or protection or safeguarding.

He estimates that at least 20% of cases that are raised in the family court could better be resolved by other means, thereby avoiding further damage to the children.

He also commented that  hostile, adversarial language used in family court often made things worse and needs to change – comparing the problem to the bitter divorce battle made famous in the 1979 film Kramer Vs Kramer.

This statement by Sir Andrew isn’t new – he made similar comments at an event last March which featured the What About Me report issued by the Family Solutions Group.

While his comments relate to the family courts in England and Wales, Shared Parenting Scotland considers that the same problems face separating parents who raise court cases in Scotland.

“Adversarial language built into the court process, painfully slow procedures, major costs and a severe lack of support for people on legal aid are all factors in Scotland” comments National Manager Ian Maxwell.

“The constructive changes that were made in the Children (Scotland) Act 2020, such as the pilot of dispute resolution information sessions before court action, are taking far too long to emerge.”

“Sir Andrew’s very public comments should also be a wake-up call for separating parents in Scotland about how they can avoid causing damage to their children.”

Shared Parenting Scotland is about to launch a major series of webinars involving speakers from around the world talking about ways both to improve the family courts and support parents to reach agreement without aggressive litigation.

We are also in the middle of an evaluated pilot of the New Ways For Families® parenting skills course, which provides a skills-based, “no blame, no shame” online educational program for parents in divorce or separation who could benefit from learning new communication, emotion management, and problem-solving skills.